Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes tend to be time-consuming, but the results are usually well worth the effort. This chicken dish is no exception. Caramelize onions and sear chicken thighs. Combine rice, currants, onions and chicken, add water, cover and cook for about 40 minutes. Delicious!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure the currants don’t contain preservatives and the spices don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Brown the chicken

Caramelize the onions and add the rice

Place chicken on top, add water and simmer for a half hour

Chicken with caramelized onions and cardamom rice


3 tablespoons (45 ml) sugar

2 ½ tablespoons (38 ml) currants

4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil

2 medium onions, thinly sliced (2 cups/500 ml)

2 ¼ pounds (1 kg) skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs or 1 whole chicken, quartered

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 cardamom pods

Rounded ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) whole cloves

2 long cinnamon sticks, broken in two

1 ⅔ cups (300 g) basmati rice

2 ¼ cups (550 ml) boiling water

1 ½ tablespoons (23 ml) flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

½ cup (125 ml) dill leaves, chopped

¼ cup (60 ml) cilantro leaves, chopped

⅓ cup (85 ml) Greek yogurt, mixed with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil (optional)


Heat half the olive oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has turned a deep golden brown. Transfer the onion to a small bowl and wipe the pan clean.

Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) each salt and black pepper. Add the remaining olive oil, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and use your hands to mix everything together well. Heat the frying pan again and place the chicken and spices in it. Sear chicken for 5 minutes on each side and remove from the pan (this is important as it part-cooks the chicken). The spices can stay in the pan, but don’t worry if they stick to the chicken. Remove most of the remaining oil as well, leaving just a thin film at the bottom. Add the rice, caramelized onion, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt and plenty of black pepper. Drain the barberries and add them as well. Stir well and return the seared chicken to the pan, pushing it into the rice.

Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid, quickly place a clean tea towel over the pan, and seal again with the lid. Leave the dish undisturbed for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the herbs and use a fork to stir them in and fluff up the rice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot or warm with yogurt mixture if you like. Serves 4.

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi